Pankaj Tripathi won the iReel Award 2019 for Best Actor (Drama) for his nuanced and brilliant portrayal of Kaleen Bhaiya, a UP-based crime lord in the Amazon Prime Video series, Mirzapur. The show premiered in November last year, and although it had a string of reputed actors in its credit list, it was Tripathi's character who ended up gathering most of the accolades.
Tripathi's Kaleen Bhaiya was memorable in every frame -- be it his witty repartees with his young wife Beena (Rasika Dugal), who keeps taunting him for his sexual incompetence, or his shrewd calculative move of taking the Pandit brothers Guddu (Ali Faizal) and Bablu (Vikrant Massey) under his wing, despite knowing that their father had taken up a case against his own son. Tripathi played Kaleen Bhaiya with the same rustic flair with which he had made his Gangs of Wasseypur character famous. Like always, with this character too, Tripathi managed to bring freshness and add gravitas.
Mirzapur is high on testosterone, replete with guns, and gang violence. The core of the story is an age-old rivalry between two gangs -- one headed by Kaleen Bhaiya, and the other by a mafia lord named Rati Shankar. The story unfolds in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh and depicts this mafia world in an intersection with the world of politics, police and the middle class.
Tripathi is no stranger to successful web series as this year we also saw the actor in Netflix's elaborate and immersive crime drama, Sacred Games 2. Apart from him, also nominated in the Best Actor (Drama) category at the iReel Awards was his Sacred Games co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his Mirzapur co-star Vikrant Massey for his role in Criminal Justice. The other two nominees were Ronit Roy (Hostages) and Arjun Mathur for Made in Heaven.
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